Free checking disappearing at big banks

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — As free checking disappears from the nation’s biggest banks, the accounts remain alive and well at credit unions.

About 72% of credit unions offer free checking accounts with no strings attached, like required minimum account balances or direct deposits, according to a Bankrate.com survey of the 50 largest credit unions.

That’s unchanged from last year and down only slightly from 78% in 2010. Another 24% of these institutions have accounts that are free if customers meet certain requirements like making direct deposits.

“Free checking remains well within reach of most Americans, and often means looking no further than their credit union,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst.

It’s a very different story at the big banks, though. Only 38% of banks now offer free checking accounts, which is down slightly from 39% last year and a big drop from 65% in 2010, based on responses from 10 major banks.

Even if you have a free checking account, you can still incur other fees for overdrawing your account or using an ATM. But fees at credit unions are a lot lower than those at banks. The average credit union overdraft fee is $26.96 versus $32.20 at banks.

The most common fee that credit unions charge customers for is using an out-of-network ATM. Credit unions typically charge $1 or $1.50, versus $2 at banks.

By Blake Ellis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.